One day we're at Mole National Park in Ghana. There's a group of
school kids there on tour. In the morning the kids are rambunctious,
laughing, loud, and alive. Several girls come up to Blythe and I and
ask for our address. After we come back from walking safari two
hours later the kids are subdued, sitting on the lawn. Sri says to us,
"The teachers have stifled them. Their spirits are being crushed."
Sri walks up to the steps in front of the kids. He looks out and yells,
"Who's a leader here?" There are about forty African kids in blue
uniforms sitting in an L-shaped group. They're probably seventh or
Sri yells again, "Who's a leader here?' I turn around and look at
them. He makes eye contact with a boy and nods his head, "Are you
a leader?" The boy nods his head. Sri looks around at several kids,
back at the boy and says louder, "Do you want to be a leader? If you
want to be a leader, then when they say sit down, you STAND UP!"
The young boy stands up. I feel a gasp in my chest.
Sri and the boy hold eye contact. The teachers are sitting across from
me at the table looking at Sri. The waitress stands near the door.
Down the massive cliff behind the kids reaches an endless green
savanna full of wildlife. All the kids' eyes are on Sri and the boy. "Do
you want to be a leader?" Sri dipped his head looking over his
glasses at the young man. "Yes," the boy said. "If you want to be a
leader, then when they tell you what's true, you don't believe it. You
go find out for yourself!"
Sri has pepper hair and is wearing a green tank top over khaki shorts.
He's twice my senior. At my age he turned down a job at MIT to do
research at Stanford. He's received a Humboldt Fellowship and
founded the Pitman/Morgan-Kaufmann series of monographs in
Artificial Intelligence. He's retired from Intel and has started a
company called TrustNet. Now he's in Africa with me influencing the
next generation of genius. He loves photography. Many of his photos
will be in this documentary. I met him in L.A. two years ago with
Dwarkoji, a Gandhi devotee who brings free eye camps to over
30,000 people in small villages in India. Sri is passionate about
helping underprivileged cultures.
His jolly belly sticks out his shirt. The west African morning breeze is
still cool. The young man looking at him is taller than most of the
other kids. His eyes are wide and white around his deep brown
pupils. They are my hero's. I've never done anything like that in my
life. Nothing like what Sri is doing.
Sri looks to the other end of the group and yells, "Are you a leader?"
Several kids stand up. Like proud dominos the kids stand up. All of
them. I can't believe what I'm seeing. Their main teacher wearing a
khaki hat looks over at me. I think he's more shocked about Sri than
the kids. This is magic. This is Sri.
Sri was misdiagnosed for four days in Phoenix, Arizona as having the
flu. After being diagnosed with malaria and treated in ICU he died on
August 3rd, 2006. He is forever in my heart. I'm so thankful for the
intimate time we shared together in Ghana, Africa. He impacted
everyone he interacted with. He impacted me. When he returned to
the states he told his one daughter Radhika about Ghana, "I found
Excerpted from ghanadocumentary.blogspot.com
|"If you want
to be a
Amber Lupton was director of the Ghana
Project. She is a transformational workshop
facilitator, activist and filmmaker. She
recently coauthored, with Nathan Otto,
"Give Peace a Deadline," and with Otto
cofounded P:5Y, a global collaboration to
create world peace in five years.
I met Sri when he
came to the Boston
area for AI work. I
came across the
news of his death
while searching for
his photos for
possible cover art.
by his death, I was
moved by this
account of his life.
Always upbeat, Sri
threw himself into
whatever he did and
was good to other
people. He liked to
send out email
important news in
his family, always
with a positive
slant, even when
the news was bad.
Although he is
gone, I get the
feeling that any day
now I may receive a
new email from him.
N.S. "SRI" SRIDHARAN
Born in Madras, India, Sri shined as a brilliant
student. In 1966 he built one of the first
computers in India at IIT Madras. A scholarship
to SUNY brought him to the US and he was later
awarded a PhD in Artificial Intelligence. His list
of academic achievements span research at
Stanford, professorship at Rutgers, and at the
Technische Universitát, Munich, Germany.
Published widely, Sri was the editor of the JACM
and Artificial Intelligence journals. He founded
the Pitman/Morgan-Kaufmann series of
monographs in Artificial Intelligence and was the
1989 Program Chair for the International Joint
Conference on Artificial Intelligence. Sri left
academia in 1984 and accepted leadership
positions at BBN Labs (Cambridge, MA), FMC
Corp. (Santa Clara, CA) and Intel (Chandler, AZ).
At Intel he was the Chief Architect for Knowledge
Management and initiated storytelling as a
means of introducing balance between people
and technologies, process and culture. At his
“retirement” party he commented that the thing
he is proudest of about his work at Intel was all
the wonderful people he hired into Intel; after he
oriented and coached them, they migrated to
various divisions. Now there are “Sri People” in
just about every Intel division and location
throughout the world.
After retirement he constructed Trust Workshops
to offer executive coaching to young, struggling
companies and entrepreneurs.His passions were
photography, people, poetry, books, and world
travel. Sri traveled the globe and embraced
everyone he met. He illuminated the lives of the
people who knew and loved him and he will be
missed and mourned throughout the world.
From Arizona Republic obituary, Aug. 6, 2006